Knights win silver bracket title at Bastrop tourney

Thanks to a second 3-0 day at the three-day tournament the Knights come home as champions ready to face a rematch tonight with St. Andrew's

Photo courtesy of Nikki Northcutt/Graphic by Dave Winter

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David Winter
Russo and Smoot prepare to return a serve during the Knights’ 3-0 season opening victory over Killeen Shoemaker on Aug. 6.

If you thought the varsity volleyball team was going to fold up its tents after not making the gold bracket of the Bastrop ISD 2019 Varsity Tournament, then you were wrong.

After struggling on Friday in three tough matches, the Knights came out with a purpose on Saturday.

“We went out flat on Friday,” senior outside hitter Liana Smoot told MacJournalism after Saturday’s Silver Bracket tournament title.

“We did really good on Thursday, so we had our guards down. Today, we had that motivation to win because we didn’t make it to the gold bracket, so it was our goal to win the silver bracket. We also had played Hendrickson before, and they beat us, so we wanted redeem ourselves.”

[The Stony Point match] was one of the most exciting and best games we’ve ever played.”

— senior outside hitter Liana Smoot

The Knights checked off both boxes, but it wasn’t easy.

After defeating Lubbock Cooper in straight sets, 25-21, 25-20, the Knights were down a set and down 11-5 in the second against Stony Point.

Smoot said they were able to fight their way back into the match and keep the serve.

“That was one of the most exciting and best games we’ve ever played. The coaches and parents were saying, ‘That was real volleyball,’ and we gave it our all the whole game. Neither team really made mistakes.”

When McCallum has it rolling, Smoot said, “it looks like constant moving, yelling and playing. No ball hits the floor, everyone is hustling and doing everything they can to keep the ball in play.”

According to junior Bridget Russo who played libero for five of the tournament matches and defensive specialist for three, the team is at its best when it plays up tempo.

“We are all communicating, celebrating our highs and coming together between points,” Russo said. “We are at the top of our game when we work together as a team, meaning that we are talking and moving together.”

We are at the top of our game when we work together as a team, meaning that we are talking and moving together.”

— junior libero/defensive specialist Bridget Russo

Match point came on a Preslie Boswell block that went straight to the ground before a Stony Point player could dig it.

Russo said the Knights played their hardest against Hendrickson in a two-set championship-clinching sweep. Smoot said the team found another level they did not get to in the team’s first meeting.

“We were able to hit around their block better today. We also served more aggressive, which made them struggle in serve-receive,” Smoot said, adding that the team played with more energy than they did the first time.

When we asked Smoot to offer a game ball for today’s success, she said it should go to junior setter Sophia Henderson. “She made some great sets today and some great assists,” Smoot said. “She even got some blocks in the front row as a 5-foot-4 setter.”

Smoot said Henderson is an all-around great player who always stays positive, always plays the whole game and is always hustling.

She made some great sets today and some great assists. She even got some blocks in the front row as a 5-foot-4 setter.”

— Smoot

Russo singled out the outside hitters, Smoot and Boswell, for their consistency on the court.

“We can always rely on our outside hitters,” Russo said.

Even though they had their first day of classes during the day, the Knights are back at home this evening when they will take on St. Andrew’s.

The match is a change for the Knights to avenge a narrow defeat at the hands of the Highlanders at the AISD Jason Landers Tournament on Aug. 8. In perhaps its most competitive match of the tournament, Mac battled toe to toe with St. Andrew’s before falling in a tiebreak set, 25-22, 20-25, 25-16. Smoot had 10 kills in the match.

Since it’s a home game [tonight], the crowd support will hopefully give us the energy we need to play a good solid match.”

— Russo

“We were really hoping to beat them when we played them the first time,” Russo said. “Since we lost, we are now more determined to beat them. We now know what to expect when we play them and will play harder and with more energy than we did the first time. Also, since it’s a home game, the crowd support will hopefully give us the energy we need to play a good solid match.”

The varsity plays at 7:30 p.m. preceded by the freshman A team at 5:30 p.m. and the JV at 6:30. Smoot encouraged all fans to come out and support her team because they will continue to improve.

“We are going to work our butts off, and we are going to do the most during district and during playoffs.”

— with reporting by Isabella Dietz

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